Scientists call on England to follow Wales and ban smacking
Scientists have called on England to follow Wales and ban the smacking of children.
A review of two decades of research led by academics at UCL and published in The Lancet, found that physical punishment leads to worse behaviour and is harmful.
The paper’s lead author, Dr Anja Heilmann of the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, said: “Physical punishment is ineffective and harmful, and has no benefits for children and their families. This could not be clearer from the evidence we present.”
This has led experts to was time for England and Northern Ireland to follow Wales, Scotland, and 62 other countries by banning the physical punishment of children outright.
The study found that children subjected to physical punishment displayed increased behavioural problems, and suggested that it was likely that smacking had caused the increase. It says this was the case regardless of the child’s sex or ethnicity, or the family’s overall parenting style.
There was no improvement in children’s attention, cognitive abilities, relationships with others, reactivity to stress, social behaviour or social competence if they had been physically punished, according to the study.
The review looked at 69 studies following children over time, and searched for links between physical punishment and outcomes, including children’s behaviour, attention and relationships.
Heilmann added: “We see a definitive link between physical punishment and behavioural problems such as aggression and antisocial behaviour.
“Physical punishment consistently predicts increases in these types of behavioural difficulties.
“Even more worrying are findings that children who are the recipients of physical punishment are at increased risk of being subjected to more severe levels of violence.”
She argues that physical punishment violates the right of children’ and called on countries should to honour obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
It states that children should have the same protection against violence as adults.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the are among groups that back an outright ban on the practice.
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